Middle East Peace, Security and Development and UNRWA

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:17 pm on 15th June 2022.

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Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) 4:17 pm, 15th June 2022

I will take questions at the end, because there is quite a lot that I would like to say. If I have time, I will take the hon. Gentleman’s intervention later.

UNRWA’s essential work is focused not only on the Occupied Palestinian Territories; it also supports vulnerable Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and across the region with essential services, including basic education and healthcare. Some £7 million of our UNRWA contribution in the 2020-21 financial year went to UNRWA’s regional emergency appeal in Syria and Jordan, which has helped to provide humanitarian assistance to more than 450,000 vulnerable Palestinian refugees in those countries. The final status of Palestinian refugees must be agreed as part of wider peace negotiations. Until that time, I confirm that the UK remains firmly committed to supporting Palestinian refugees through UNRWA, and the other valuable work that UNRWA does in the region.

My hon. Friend Dr Poulter asked how aid is being allocated post the decision to reduce official development assistance from 0.7% to 0.5%. It was a challenging decision to make, but we must recall the massive impact the global pandemic has had on the UK’s own finances. It is a temporary decision, and the Chancellor has set out the methodology by which we would return to 0.7%. I suggest my hon. Friend looks at the international development strategy that we published a few weeks ago, which brings together our key global priorities for the allocation of ODA, in particular bringing back humanitarian aid and girls’ education—both of which, as the hon. Member for Rotherham pointed out, are key for UNRWA.